- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The federal government is now $13 trillion in the red, the Treasury Department will announce Wednesday — marking the first time the government has sunk that far into debt.

Lawmakers and staffers on Capitol Hill have been awaiting the milestone with macabre fascination for more than a week, and its arrival is likely to complicate efforts for Democrats as they try to pass several emergency spending bills this month.

The department’s website on Wednesday showed that the outstanding public debt hit $13.051 trillion as of Tuesday, leaping nearly $60 billion since Friday, the previous day for which figures were released. The department always posts figures a day behind and skipped Monday because it was a federal holiday. A down-to-the-penny tally of the debt will be released by the department Wednesday afternoon.

Several unofficial debt clocks showed the debt crossing the $13 trillion threshold a week ago, based on imprecise estimations, prompting several lawmakers to jump the gun in lamenting its implications for the country’s fiscal future.

At $13 trillion, that works out to an obligation of more than $42,000 for every U.S. resident.

Earlier this year, Congress and President Obama raised the country’s debt limit to $14.3 trillion, hoping it would to give the government enough room to spend through the end of this year.

The single biggest day for debt came on June 30, 2009, when the government added $186.9 billion in obligations. The last days in fiscal quarters often see major debt increases.

Total public debt includes two pots of money. One is normal government debt held in the hands of consumers, such as Treasury bills and bonds, while the other is intragovernmental holdings, or money that one part of the government borrows from another agency. That includes money borrowed from the Social Security trust funds.